April 4

Make Something – DIY Hand Warmers

A Warm Heart Keeps Your Fingers Toasty

 

DIY-Hand-Warmers-2

cute, quick and quite thrifty

So I was planning to share some lovely Spring craft ideas with you, seeing as Make Something is one of this week’s Thrifty Habits. But I changed my mind when I realised that Spring has failed to launch. It is freezing so I suggest you make these cute, quick and quite thrifty hand warmers from The Idea Room for the coming ice-age.

Actually, they are very thrifty because they are made using old scraps of fabrics and filled with rice so they are practically free. No rice? From experience, oats work too. (Pasta, cornflakes, not so much.) No fabric scraps? Look carefully at any clothes you and yours are throwing out for recyclable fabric.

DIY-Hand-Warmers-3If the weather suddenly improves (ha!) you could put them away for Christmas to use as stocking fillers. In fact, go on and make lots to give away next Christmas. I intend to – partly because Amy from The Idea Room has made cute labels and it would be rude not to use them, but mainly to give me something to do while I wait for Spring to reboot. It may take a while.

Happy making and may the sun shine upon you, eventually.

March 7

How To Buy Happiness

Once you can afford to feed, clothe and house yourself, each extra pound makes less and less difference to your sense of well-being.”  Liz Hoggard, Making Slough Happy

Money can’t buy you happiness, right?

Wrong, according to Jonathan Haidt, author of the excellent The Happiness Hypothesis who insists that  “those who think money can’t buy happiness just don’t know where to shop.”  And then goes on to show how smart spending choices will make you thrifty and happy.

Tartan Boy ClimbingNow, I love Thrifty, but I love Happy more. Isn’t Happy what Thrifty is really shooting for? Why are you cutting your spending? Freedom from the misery of debt? A good life at a lower price? Saving up to live out a personal dream?  Whatever your reason, it’s about being happier. It’s always about being happier.

So, what should we be doing with our money, to maximise our Happy? I have been exploring the world of Positive Psychology and here is what I have learned.

How To Buy Happiness

  1. Invest in variety not volume.  It’s not the expense of a new thing that delights us – it’s the newness, the change from what we just had to what we have now. So frequent, small treats will create steadier happiness over time than occasional big purchases. Treating yourself little and often could make you more contented than saving up for one big expense.
  2. Invest in doing not having.   Activity, according to positive psychologists, brings greater and longer-lasting pleasure than possessions, especially activity that we share with others.
  3. how to buy happinessInvest in creating rather than just consuming.  Making things makes you happy. Buying things, not so much. Cook things, grow things, make music, design a web site, redecorate your home – whatever works for you.

    “Joy’s soul lies in the doing” (Shakespeare)

    .
  4. Invest in your health. It’s harder to feel good when you feel bad. Money spent on nutritious food, a comfortable mattress, shoes you can walk in, etc, is money well spent. (Note to self: money spent on fancy wine is a less secure investment in lingering happiness.)
  5. Invest in relationships.  Spend money on connecting with others (meeting friends for coffee, travelling to visit family, sending a birthday card, etc.) rather than on competing to have the best, biggest, most luxurious and most expensive of everything. We are hyper-social animals and we need to feel connected to others more than we need to keep up with the Joneses.
  6. Invest in community: share.  Studies show that people who share more are usually happier than people who don’t.  Perhaps it’s because it reminds them how lucky they are to have more than others; perhaps it reassures them that they have something of value to offer to others; perhaps it helps them feel involved with the rest of the human race.  Perhaps we just feel good when we do good.  Whatever the reason, in terms of buying happiness, it’s a great investment.

 

Thrifty Habits PlannerClick here for this week’s Thrifty Habits Planner. It’s free – what could be thriftier than that?

February 29

The Graphics Fairy

I am creative – I get the urge to make things frequently and I am rarely happier than when I have a project on the go. But I am not artistic. I can’t create images from scratch. When it comes to manipulating light or composition in a photo I am lost. I have the most rudimentary grasp of graphic design. This bothers me.

14-DIY-Serving-TraysWhich is why I was so thrilled to stumble across The Graphics Fairy a few years ago. Tartan Thrifty owes a huge visual debt to this site – that’s where all the retro and vintage images I use here come from. Karen provides thousands of vintage and retro images that are free to download and use as you please. She adds new images frequently along with a search facility to make it easy to find exactly what you want. And that is but the tip of the iceberg. She also provides inspirational ideas for using these images in DIY and craft projects.

14-fabric-transfer-projectsWhy am I telling you this? Because, if, like me, you are artistically challenged, this is a gift. The artistic part has been done for you.  The clever idea and the design skill has also been seen to. All you have to do is transfer the images to objects you can pick up cheaply. Perhaps do some simple painting of surfaces. The odd bit of cutting and sticking. The kind of thing you mastered in kindergarten. You can do this. And once you discover this, you are able to turn out all sorts of loveliness to give – or keep – with limited skills and money. Thrifty and crafty – thank-you Graphics Fairy.

12-table-transfer-projects

December 15

How To Make Luxury Scented Candles At Thrifty Prices

The Sweet Smell Of Coffee Shop Pastries In A Candle

Coffee Caramel Cream DIY Candle from Tartan ThriftyDo you need to make some thrifty gifts that require next to no skill but look and smell lovely? How about the big cousin of my Teeny Tiny Teacup Candles – these big, sweet pastry-scented Coffee Cup Candles?

They cost me under £3 each to make, using cups from B&M Bargains (£2) and candle-making supplies ordered easily from Amazon. If you are buying supplies from scratch this will set you back around £9. So if you only make one candle it is going to cost you over £10. Hmmm… The only sensible option is to make loads of candles! Lots of gifts in one go, and your home will smell amazing while you make them.

DSCN0536If you can heat a can of soup and pour it into a mug, then you can definitely make these candles. You don’t need specialist equipment. And because you are using a high concentration of good quality specialist scent oils your candles will have a luxurious fragrance. High end product, low end price – thrifty or what?

 

How To Make Patisserie Scented Candles

All you need…

A plastic jug to melt your wax in – one that fits in your microwave oven. No microwave? A plastic bowl set snugly inside a pot of water on the stove top works too.

soya wax pelletsWax  I have used soya wax rather than petroleum based wax here – partly for eco-reasons, partly because it burns slower and makes your tiny candles last longer, and partly because it melts at a low temperature which makes for speedier and safer candle-making.

pre-waxed wicksWicks  You can buy wick by the metre but it is simpler and quicker to buy pre-waxed wicks which are attached to their sustainers already. (That’s the little metal disks in the picture to the left.)

glue dots on a rollGlue dots  Glue dots make attaching your wicks to your containers a doddle. (And they are handy for all sorts of other things too.)

bakery scent oils setScent oil  I have used oils from Whicksnwhacks Bakery Scented Oil collection, purchased on Amazon. I made some with Coffee Caramel Cream, some with Chocolate Cake and lots with Gingerbread. They all smell delicious. A set of six oils sets you up for months of making gloriously scented candles – but it also sets you back by £13.99. If you are planning on making just a few candles try an individual bottle of scent oil like this gingerbread one for £4.99. That is a lot of money if you only plan to make a couple of candles but good value if you want to make a whole batch of high-end scented candles – it’s the quality and quantity of the fragrance oil that makes the difference between a cheap candle and a pricey one.

Containers I bought big coffee cups for £1.99 each from B&M Bargains but you could also use plain jam jars. You could even use the Jam Labelizer (my favourite website of 2015) to create a cute label for your jars.

And all you do…

  1. DSCN0536Before you begin, work out how much wax you will need by filling your containers with water and then emptying them into a measuring jug. Make a note of the volume of water this produces – you will need the same volume of melted wax.
  2. Start by attaching glue dots to the bottom of each wick. Peel the backing off the attached dot to give you a sticky wick base. Pop this into your container and centre it before pressing it gently into place. Put your containers on a baking tray and pop them all in the oven at 50° centigrade
    to warm. This will help your wax to stick to the container.
  3. Put some wax into a plastic jug. Put the jug in the microwave at full power and heat for 2 minutes. Stir and microwave again for 1 minute. Repeat until it has all melted. Check the volume – if it is less than you need add more solid wax and repeat the heating process until you have enough.
  4. Take the cups out the oven. Stir your scent oil into the molten wax. Follow the instructions on your oil label for this – too much oil will stop your candle burning properly, too little will stop the scent spreading far and wide when the candle burns. Different brands specify different amounts. If your oil does not specify an amount, aim for about 10% of the volume of wax you are using.
  5. Pour the wax into your cups. Hold the wicks in place with whatever you have handy – I went for the expensive and high-tech option of using pencils. Whatever you use, make sure you have it ready before you start making your candles. Once the wax starts to set you don’t want to be gently wiggling your wax – it creates unsightly gaps around the wick. In the event that you do indulge in wanton wax wiggling, you can always melt a little wax later and pour it into the gaps.
  6. When the wax has set, trim the wicks. Stand back and admire your handiwork, taking a deep nose-breath as you do so. Feels good, doesn’t it?

 

HandNoticeVintage-GraphicsFairyMore Christmas Posts

 

Gifts In A Jar – Snowy Road Mix

 

How To Cut Your Gift-Buying Budget

Who Is Going To Thank You For A Home-Made Christmas Gift?

December 7

1 Cheap Pic-n-Mix – 10 Thrifty Stocking Fillers

How To Turn 1 Pic-n-Mix Into 10 Thrifty Stocking Fillers

A Magical Christmas On A Real Life BudgetDo you need some cheap, edible stocking fillers that are more interesting than a fun-size festive Mars Bar? Step right up. I am going to show you how a quick rummage in the recycle bin and a few minutes of printing other people’s labels can help you to turn one pic-n-mix into ten different little stocking fillers. A pic-n-mix is not the cheapest way to buy sweets but it is a cheap way to get small amounts of a good variety of sweets, ready for you to give them a festive twist.

My pic-n-mix came from Morrisons. There were no small cups (£2) so I had to buy a regular (£3) cup – which gave me more sweets than I really needed for this project. So, for my £3 I got 15 stocking fillers – that works out at 20p each. Not bad, but next time I will go to B&M or Poundland who both do a decent big cup for £2.

How To Maximise Your Mix

DSCN0516DSCN0518DSCN0520Pick ten different sweets of assorted sizes. Start by packing big flat sweets around the edges. Put in a layer of medium sized ones then pour on small sweets and shake to settle them into the spaces. Keep going till you are done. The key here is small amounts of the bigger sweets – half a dozen of each, tops. When you get home, split your haul into your different sorts of sweets and then hit your recycle bin to see what re-usable packaging you have.

pic-n-mixWhat you do with your pic-n-mix will, of course, depend on what’s in it. Below I show you how I packaged up my candy but you might come up with different sweets. If you need more candy-packaging inspiration, take a look at my Pinterest Christmas board.

Free Candy Packaging

1 & 2 Chocolate Eggs

4b78cd5c0f4df31810d64023b0af3bab

Dragons eggs free range and organicI printed out these bag toppers from Simplistically Living to turn them into Dinosaur Eggs for Tiny Tartan and made a label with The Jam Labelizer to turn the rest into Dragon Eggs for Tartan Boy. I also ate a few myself. I do have a bit of a weakness for chocolate mini-eggs…

 

 

3  Stripy Strawberry Chews

santa boxesstrawberry chewsThese free Santa printables from Kathy’s Cottage, in red and white checks or spots, are a perfect match for the striped sweets. You can leave the number cards off if you prefer.

 

4  Jelly Strawberries

jar of jelly strawberriesjelly strawberriesIf you have a small jam jar pack these in and top with a circle of paper or cloth, tied on with ribbon. No ribbon? Take a look in the shoulders of your tops and dresses for the loops of thin ribbon that shops use to keep garments on their hangers. Snip these off and use to secure your jar toppers.

 

5  Smarties

Halloween-Gift-Boxessmarties in a jarAh, smarties. So many things to do with these. If you have tiny jars you could pack them with smarties, maybe even sorting them into different colours and layering them. Or pop them into a re-purposed plastic box and tie with a ribbon. Or print out one of these cute little pillow boxes from Lines Across – exactly the right size for smarties.

 

6  White Chocolate Sprinkle Disks

goodie-bagwhite chocolate disks with sprinklesI love these little pouches from Babyccino Kids that you can run up in minutes on a sewing machine using old magazine pages or comic book pages. No sewing machine? I find double-sided sticky tape works well too. No magazines to rip up? No problem – supermarkets give their own away, for free, at the checkouts. M&S ones have particularly nice, thick paper. And the current ones are full of lovely, twinkly festive images which will make ideal containers for white chocolate sprinkles – or any other treats.

 

7  Jelly Beans

maydayseedpack

 

magic beansThese are asking to be re-branded as magic beans with this simple seed packet printable from Nothing But Country

 

8  Blue Bonbons

eada6b85676f0d75e97df5e7bab7e83btoffee bonbonsThese frosty blue balls are the perfect way to use these Snowman Poop bag toppers from Lime & Mortar – either staple them to the top of a bag or seal the edges with a glue stick to form a little envelope for your “poops”.

 

9  Jelly Faces

keep calm matchbox covers
jelly facesHow about using these cute Keep Calm And Have Some Candy covers from Pastill for matchboxes packed with jelly faces? The website is in Swedish but Google can translate for you. The translation is not perfect but it does allow you easily to find the free download instructions. They fit small matchboxes, and can be cut fairly easily to size.

10  Chocolate Raisins

reindeer-poop-printableIf life gives you chocolate raisins, make reindeer poop. A Girl And A Glue Gun has tie-on labels and bag toppers for Rudolph’s leavings in two designs and a variety of sizes. Kids of all ages love these.

So there you go – one trip to the shops, ten little stocking fillers.

 

HandNoticeVintage-GraphicsFairyMore Christmas Posts

 

How To Fill A Bulging Christmas Stocking Without Busting Your Budget

How To Fill A Christmas Stocking For (Around) A Fiver

5 Ways To Make DIY Stocking Fillers – When You Have No DIY Skills

 

June 7

Pretty Thrifty Candle In A Teeny Tiny Teacup

Tiny Teacup Candles At A Teeny Tiny Price

images (1)A friend asked me recently if I don’t go stir crazy sitting home blogging all day. All day? Ha! Was my thoughtful reply. But I do indeed need to get out the house sometimes and when I  do, being a thrifty mother, I go blog in the cafe in my local Ikea. There are always free tables with free wifi. The constant bustle works like white noise and makes it easier to concentrate.  (Really.) I sit by a window with a panoramic view of the hills surrounding me. And, if I flash my (free) Ikea Family Card, I get unlimited coffee for nothing.  I can sit there for as long as I can spin out the coffees. Long enough to write a blog post.

duktig-piece-coffee-tea-set-assorted-colours__0086281_PE214921_S4duktig tea cup in palm of handIf I get the fidgets I go for a wee wander round the store, which is how I came to notice these teeny tiny teacups. They are for children to play with. I would have adored these as a little girl. I would also have broken them in a matter of weeks, which is why I have never succumbed to buying them for the Tartan Weans. I have, since this was Make Something week, come up with a perfect excuse to buy them, though…

duktig tumblersDSCN0088At £6 for 4 teacups and 4 little china tumblers these work out at 75p each. That’s the same amount you would pay to buy a little glass jar to make a container candle in. Same price, whole different level of cuteness. As it happens, I was planning to make candles in jars as teacher gifts for the end of term. So I made them in the little cups instead. I am rather pleased with the result!

teeny tiny tea cup candle from www.tartanthrifty.org

How To Make Pretty Thrifty Candles In Teeny Tiny Teacups

What You Need

A plastic jug to melt your wax in – one that fits in your microwave oven. No microwave? A plastic bowl set snugly inside a pot of water on the stove top works too.

soya wax pelletsWax  I have used soya wax rather than petroleum based wax here – partly for eco-reasons, partly because it burns slower and makes your tiny candles last longer, and partly because it melts at a low temperature which makes for speedier and safer candle-making.

pre-waxed wicksWicks  You can buy wick by the metre but it is w-a-a-y more simple and quick to buy pre-waxed wicks which are attached to their sustainers already.

glue dots on a rollGlue dots  These make attaching your wicks to your containers a doddle. You can skip them though and use just a little drop of melted wax instead.

black raspberry and vanilla candle scent oilScent oil  I have used Black Raspberry and Vanilla for my little summer lights but the world is your fragrant oyster when you shop for candle scent online.  Next time, I think I will try a coffee scent and use a wax tint to match the colour of my candle to the scent. I initially tried scenting mine with essential oil – quite a lot of quite expensive essential oil. It smelled amazing when I stirred it in… then it smelt of nothing when I burned the candles. A little more research revealed that volatile oils often evaporate before the wax sets and that oils created specifically for candle-making “throw” their scent more effectively. Lesson learned.

Making Candles In A Teacup

attaching a glue dot to a pre-waxed wickpre-waxed wick in a tea cupStart by attaching glue dots to the bottom of each wick. Peel the backing off the attached dot to give you a (very) sticky wick base. Pop this into your cup and centre it before pressing it gently into place. Put your cups on a baking tray and pop them all in the oven at 50 degrees to warm. This will help your wax to stick to the container.

Put 300g wax into a plastic jug. Put the jug in the microwave at full power and heat for 2 minutes. Stir and microwave again for 1 minute. Repeat until it has all melted.

black raspberry and vanilla candle scent oilscented candle in a tiny tea cupTake the cups out the oven. Stir your scent oil into the molten wax. Follow the instructions on your oil for this – too much oil will stop your candle burning properly, too little will stop the scent spreading far and wide when the candle burns. Different brands specify different amounts.

DSCN0109using a clothes peg to steady a candle wickPour the wax into your cups. Hold the wicks in place with whatever you have handy – I have gone for the expensive and high-tech option of using old clothes pegs, but criss-crossed cocktail sticks work too. Or pencils. Look – you are a smart person – improvise!

DSCN0118When the wax has set, trim the wicks. That’s it – you have made a whole batch of sweet little teacup candles that smell amazing. Aren’t you fabulous?

teeny tiny tea cup candle from www.tartanthrifty.org

Affiliate Links:  please note that this post contains affiliate links to products at Amazon UK.  This means that if you click on my link and buy the product, a small percentage gets paid back to me. Alternatively, you can look up the same product on Amazon independently and none of your payment comes to me.  Or you can find a similar product elsewhere.  Or win maximum Thrifty Points by not buying anything at all….  It’s your money, your choice

May 2

Control Your Spending With A Free Thrifty Habits Planner For The Week Beginning Monday 4th May

Free Thrifty Habits Planner For The Week Beginning Monday 4th May

Regularly, Consistently, Habitually Thrifty

Thrifty Habits PlannerWe all want to know how to save money. After years of frugal living  and not-so-frugal living I have come to the conclusion that the answer to the question of how to save money is… regularly, consistently, habitually.  It’s not just what thrifty tips you take on board, or how many money-saving ideas you pin to a Thrifty Living Pinterest board – it’s how easy it is to make those money-saving tips into regular, almost mindless habits.  We all spend without thinking:  my aim on Tartan Thrifty is to save money without thinking, to make thrifty living second nature.  Because, the less effort you put into  living well for less, the more likely you are to keep it up.  So here is the Thrifty Habits Planner I print off and stick up in the kitchen each week – yours to download for free and customise to fit in with your life.  I hope it helps you become regularly, consistently, habitually thrifty too.

This Week’s Thrifty Habits

candle+lantern+graphicsfairy010bThis is Make Something week.  It has rained, snowed and pelted us with hailstones here in Glasgow this week, sometimes all within the same ten minutes, but I am clinging onto my belief that the sun will shine again, a Scottish summer will eventually arrive, and I will get to sit out in my newly lovely urban forest garden. (Like the weather, the loveliness of my garden is in an imaginary future…) So this week I will be making some candles to burn in my garden. Or more likely to burn inside when it starts snowing again. If the candles are a success, I will post a how-to.  If you never hear me mention the subject again – you know what happened! If you fancy trying some candles of your own, take a look at my Pinterest Make Something board and try a site like www.4candles.co.uk for supplies. A quick google of the phrase ‘candle making supplies’ will give you more online suppliers.

How To Use The Thrifty Habits Planner

Click here to download your copy of this week’s Thrifty Habits Planner. You can look up each habit in The Thrifty Habits in the sidebar to the right for more information.

Look at the Weekly & Monthly/Annual Thrifty Habits.  Decide which day suits you best for each one and pencil it in on that day.  When you have done it, tick it off.  Pause for a moment to enjoy the little fizz of smugness this creates.

Got any thrifty ideas of your own?  Add them – and remember to comment about them here so I can steal them admire your cleverness.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Then bin this week’s planner and come back to Tartan Thrifty for next week’s planner.  I will post it on Saturday 9th May.

HandNoticeVintage-GraphicsFairyClick here to read my latest post Three Clicks To Cut Your Energy Bill

 

 

March 6

Get Ahead Of The Crafty Curve With Thrifty DIY Gifts

It’s time to think about Christmas – COME BACK HERE RIGHT NOW!

Christmas-Fairy-Image-GraphicsFairy-597x1024I don’t mean unpacking the decorations (it might interest you to know I have only got round to putting our boxes of decorations away this week…) I mean thinking about making gifts for next year.

Who's Really Going To Thank You For A Home Made Gift Personality SorterYes, I know – I already blogged about how lots of people are not going to thank you for a DIY gift.  I also happen to know that 5 Ways To Make DIY Stocking Fillers – When You Have No DIY Skills has been one of my two most popular posts to date.  So y’all clearly ignored my advice anyway!

Saving Money By Making Gifts

When you buy a gift in a shop you are paying for someone’s time, skills, and resources – even though you may have some of those skills and resources yourself already. You are also paying to heat the building they produced the gift in, to power the vehicle that delivered it to the shop, and to package it up real pretty.  On top of that you are paying a little to each person who has handled part of the process – the producer’s wage, the shipper’s wage, the seller’s wage, etc. So if you can cut any part of that out by doing it yourself, this will reduce your costs – even if it’s only the packaging it up real pretty part.

retro-mom-worry-images-Graphics-Fairy004So here’s the thing: whenever I look at craft pics on Pinterest I think, “Ooh, I could TOTALLY make that!” At this stage – occasionally – a tiny, sensible part of me asks,”Could you? Really?” Well, Sensible Mum is on the right track but the question she really needs to ask is this:  “Do you have the time? Really?”  Because a big part of what you pay for with shop-bought is time.

sewing+printable+vintage+image-graphicsfairy2c-150x150We get exactly the same amount of time every day and no more – we can waste it, spend it wisely, spend it on others, whatever, but we can’t increase it.  So it’s fine that I look at my Make Something board on Pinterest and think I could make everything on there, (I can’t, but that’s another story).

worried gift-giverBut unless I actually leave enough time to do them, they won’t get finished. The road to Christmas overspending, in my experience, is frequently littered with incomplete DIY gifts, cast aside as I sprinted to the shops for last-minute panic-buying.

March Is The Perfect Time To Start Making Christmas Gifts

sewingmachine1So this year, I am starting now.  I have rationalised my gift list and written a revised list of people to buy for. I have taken my own advice and marked off the ones who will absolutely NOT want a DIY gift, and the ones who would LOVE one.  I have trawled Pinterest for inspiration and pinned the DIY ideas that suit certain individuals on my list.  But, unlike previous years, I am going to pick one and start on it now. Now, when the days are still short enough to leave me time to craft in the evenings.  Now, when Christmas has receded to a pleasant memory not a gigantic and urgent To Do list.  Now, when I have time to give things a go, mess up, learn from that and have a second, successful shot.  Now, is definitely the time to start making gifts for Christmas. Care to join me?

December 19

Gifts In A Jar: Snowy Road Mix

Snowy Road Mix:  A Thrifty Last Minute Giftie

IMG_2682This is a last-minute kids’ gift idea that tickles my lazy and my thrifty sides.  Simply collect the ingredients together, layer them up in a jar, print out the labels and tie them to the jar. The mix makes a white chocolate version of Rocky Road that is jewelled with dried and crystallised fruit and warmed up with a little ginger.   With a little help at the chocolate melting stage it can be mixed up by even very young children.

DIY Snowy Road Mix in a tinIMG_2660I have used an Ikea Korken jar (second smallest size), which fits very snugly inside an Ikea Vinterkul tin, with a matching Vinterkul child’s apron.  But, to be honest, that’s probably over-kill.  It works fine just as a jar of the mix.

How To Make Snowy Road Mix

You will need

  • 100g ginger nuts
  • 80g dried cranberries
  • 100g crystallized pineapple and/or papaya
  • 35g  mini marshmallows
  • 350g white chocolate buttons

In a food processor whizz  the ginger nuts to a powder.  Alternatively pop them in a bag and attack vigorously with a rolling pin.

Frosty Sprinkles for Snowy RoadFill a small cellophane bag with sparkly cake sprinkles. Don’t fill the bag more than half way and don’t fasten it right down at the top of the filling.  You need to leave yourself wiggle space for positioning it in the jar.  Do gently squeeze air out of the bag before sealing it with a little twist tie. Pop your snowy sprinkles bag inside the lid of the jar.  Tuck the fastened end and the bottom of the bag towards you so that they don’t show from the outside of the lid.

snowy road ingredients graphicLayer up your jar in the order shown.  The chocolate buttons should slightly overfill the jar and need to be pressed down slightly to close the lid. This will allow for the rest of the ingredients to settle a bit.

Finishing Off Your Snowy Road Mix

IMG_2670Snowy Road Mix Label - New PagePrint out the labels on card. Cut them out and lay the Santa label over the Instructions label.  With both labels lined up, use a hole-punch to punch a hole in them.  Thread a ribbon through both holes and tie to the jar.

Of course, you could always skip the jar and just make yourself up a batch of Snowy Road to pop into little cellophane bags for giving. Or for selling at a Christmas Fayre. Or for eating, greedily, while watching It’s A Wonderful Life on DVD.  Your call.

Click here to download this week’s Thrifty Habits PlannerHandNoticeVintage-GraphicsFairy

December 11

Make-Ahead DIY Whisky Truffles

DIY Whisky Truffles -Thrifty, Easy And Deliciously Decadent

18chocolat+lady+vintage+images+graphicsfairy005bg-150x150Mmmm…. Belgian truffles.  The basic ingredients are not expensive, which makes them a thrifty gift option. They are delicious and decadent and actually very easy to make.  The problem is that they contain cream – and cream goes off in a matter of days.  So if you want a steady supply of truffles on hand at Christmas, you can only make them a day or two ahead. I did exactly this for years, spending Christmas Eve in a cloud of cocoa and a filthy temper as I coated them by the dozen.  Then it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, truffles might freeze.

IMG_2644Guess what?  It turns out truffle centres freeze beautifully!  This lets you make your truffles way ahead of Christmas and has the added advantage that truffle centres are easier to coat in melted chocolate when they are frozen.  Just take as many as you need out the freezer, coat them in melted chocolate and within minutes the coating has set and you are ready to pop them into a box or bag.

How To Make So-Easy-You-Can’t-Go-Wrong Whisky Truffles

1.  Make Your Truffle Centres

IMG_2503Break up 100g of milk chocolate, or use 100g of milk chocolate buttons.  In a bowl combine 15ml of single cream with 15 ml of whisky.  Be sure to add the whisky to the cream first – if you pour it over the chocolate it will seize and be good for nothing but the bin. (Voice of experience, sadly.) Alternatively, use 30 ml of irish cream liqueur.  (Note that this will give you a sweeter centre so you might want to use plain chocolate instead.)    Add your bits of chocolate and place the bowl over a slightly smaller bowl filled with freshly-boiled water. Now leave it alone for 5 minutes.

IMG_2506IMG_2507Give it a gentle stir to combine the melted chocolate with the cream and whisky.  If there are still tiny lumps of chocolate, leave it for a few more minutes.  Stir gently again until you have a glossy, smooth bowl of chocolate loveliness.

IMG_2632Now leave it for a couple of hours.  Get two teaspoons. Take a spoonful out of the bowl.  Roll it between the two spoons to form a little ball.  Place the ball on a baking tray.  Repeat until you have nothing left in the bowl and a tray of little chocolate balls.  Pop the tray into the freezer for at least 5 hours.  Tip the little balls into a freezer bag, gently squeeze the air out and seal.  They are now ready to take out as many or as few as you want whenever you need them.

2.  Coat Your Whisky Truffles

Take It Easy

retro-mom-worry-images-Graphics-Fairy004Chocolate can lose its temper when it gets heated (and at this time of year, who am I to judge?)   Tempering is the process of melting chocolate to the right temperature, cooling it carefully, raising the temperature slightly again to exactly the right temperature and then allowing it to set.  Does that sound fiddly?  It is fiddly.  Get it right, and you have lovely glossy chocolate that snaps brightly when broken.  Get it wrong and you have dull chocolate with white patches that tastes a bit stale.

I want my whisky truffles NOW so I am not going to temper the chocolate to coat them.  To be honest, even if I had time, I still wouldn’t bother for a truffle coating because I have learned [looks around to make sure nobody is listening] that you can cheat!

IMG_2637You can cheat by coating them in a layer of melted chocolate and then dropping them straight into a bowl of cocoa and giving them a gentle roll with a fork to coat.  Any imperfections are covered by the powdery layer of cocoa.  You can do the same with glimmer sugar.  If it comes to that, you can do the same with a bashed up Flake, although this lacks the pizazz of glimmer sugar or the classiness of cocoa.  Or you could take a chance on it and just coat them in white chocolate, which loses its temper less readily.

Or Take The Easy Route

downloadTwo words:  cooking chocolate.  I would never – never – recommend making a truffle centre with cooking chocolate.  The centre is the main event and it is only ever going to be as good as the chocolate you make it with. (By the way, Aldi and Lidl do perfectly good chocolate for truffle centres – the Lidl Fair Trade brand is particularly good.)  The coating is thin, and does not have to be such high quality.  In particular, white cake covering is not such a vast taste-step away from regular white chocolate.  Cooking chocolate is not actually chocolate – which means that it doesn’t need to be tempered.  So melt and coat without fear – your truffles will look perfectly pretty.

How To Coat Your Truffles In Melted [ahem] Chocolate

IMG_2641You need three things – two bowls, two spoons and a supply of cocktail sticks.  Fill one bowl with hot water and pop the other bowl on top.  Fill with a small amount of chocolate to melt.  Take a spoonful of melted chocolate, spear a truffle centre with a cocktail stick and drop it into the spoon.

IMG_2644Using two spoons, roll the truffle in the chocolate until it is coated.  Stab it with cocktail stick, pick it up and tilt and swirl the melted chocolate around it until it begins to set.  Using a second cocktail stick to free the first, pop it onto a cold plate.  Repeat until you have a plate of lovely little truffles.

3.  Package Your Whisky Truffles Like A Pro

reindeerhugs_03Once they have set, pop them into a little cellophane bag, close with ribbon or a metallic twist tie and add a label with a handwritten use-by date on the back.  (The use-by date is one week from the day you take them out the freezer.)  I reckon whisky truffles cry out for these lovely tartan labels, free to downoad from eatdrinkchic. But then I would, wouldn’t I?

Happy truffling!

 

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